Momlogic's Jenny: "Yes we can!" A chant that echoed across this nation as Barack Obama became the first African-American to win the White House. Last night's historic event undoubtedly proved that our nation is ready for change and that race has nothing to do with capability. But in the world of comedy, does race have anything to do with "funny"?
For the past eight years, George W. Bush has been called every name under the sun. On a daily basis, it seemed like there was always something to make fun of when it came to his presidency. Teased for being a "hillbilly" and a hick, the knocks at Bush have always insinuated that he was just another dumb white guy from Texas. With Bush in the White House, the opportunity for jokes and sketches seemed never ending. He literally was a massive joke and gave everyone in America (and around the world), no matter what race or ethnicity, something to laugh about.
But will we be able to be as relentless in joking about Barack Obama? Or do comedians need to tailor their content because of the color of his skin? We all know when it comes to race, there is a fine line about what is acceptable. I would never consider myself racist or discriminating, but when I brought up the question of comedy changing up at a meeting and asked if saying something like "Pimp the White House" in reference to the Obama's moving in was offensive, many people, including an African American coworker, thought it was. Granted, that might not be an example of "funny," but if Chris Rock said it, would everyone have laughed and said it was OK? Just last week, Obama appeared on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart and joked that his white half might be confused about who to vote for on November 4th. I thought the dialogue was smart, witty and acceptable. Michael Richards horrific racial rant two years ago at LA's Laugh Factor? Not acceptable -- offensive. And certainly, NOT FUNNY. Even so, it seems with the face of our nation literally changing, there is potential for offense to be taken at even the slightest of jokes spewed by even the most liberal of late night talk show hosts.
In fact, many comedians actually fear that having a "perfect" African American man as President, gives them very little to joke about. Bill Maher recently joked, "Barack Obama has to give comedians something to work with. Seriously, here's a guy who's not fat, not cheating on his wife, not stupid, not angry and not a phony. Who needs an a**hole like that around for the next four years?!" He went on to joke that he doesn't want to have to shy away from jokes at Obama's expense for the next four years for fear of being dubbed a racist: "If you can't laugh at a guy who went to Columbia, Harvard, the Senate and the White House, and who happens to be black, the racist is you."
But where should comedians draw the line? When it comes to joking, what's off limits and what's okay? If our nation can see past color, do we need to see past jokes?
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